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Gary Tyler Moore

For Gary Tyler Moore, love is all around

Today on Alphabet City: Jon Paul welcomes a new alter ego into his life.

There’s a power in naming things.  And this week, in the midst of media training for my upcoming book tour appearances, Susan was pointing out the number of times I say “gay Mary Tyler Moore” in my messages—when she accidently called me Gary Tyler Moore.  We both looked at each other in astonishment at the genius of the flub—finally, a name for my alter ego.  Gary Tyler Moore—you know, Mary’s gay brother?

Die-hard fans of my cult film GayTV: The Movie will recognize that last line as an homage to the character Marty Stewart, you know, Martha’s gay brother.

Giving birth to Gary couldn’t come at more opportune time because he’s been very busy—what with book tour beginning this weekend, and all.  He’s a jack of all-trades really.  A promotional photo shoot inspired by his sister Mary (hat toss and all) on the real streets of Alphabet City with genius photographer Jamie Beck of FromMe-ToYou.Tumblr.com was followed by filling orders for independent bookstores across the country to carry Alphabet City.  Please frequent stores like Legacy Books/DFW, Books & Books/Miami, Giovanni’s Room/Philadelphia, Obelisk/San Diego, and Cahoots Cards & Gifts/Salt Lake City—Gary is totally intrigued by this last one and is talking to me about arranging a tour date there!  More bookstores are signing up daily!

Gary’s day ended with performances as a Cher Impersonator and Sammy the Investigator—a potty-mouthed, washed-up kiddie TV performer done in by Dora the Explorer and her f*ckin map.  And that’s just a taste of what was on stage last at the Level 2 graduation performance at The Pit under the direction of Kevin Scott—whose own improv troupe Centralia Gary and I both agree borders on genius.

Over the next several weeks, Gary and I will be crossing the country on book tour sponsored by Kimpton Hotels and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force—read along for recaps of life on the road, links to press coverage, and travel tips on tour cities.  Dallas, here we come!

Gary Tyler Moore is ready to turn the world on with his smile.

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Yes, and…

Today on Alphabet City: Jon Paul’s return to the stage takes some oddball turns, but helps him in life.

Backstage before curtain time.

Last night I was unsuccessful in turning tricks on Coney Island (my pimp blamed my thighs).  I romanced a third date at Kentucky Fried Chicken (things got kinky over over gravy and cole slaw).  And I told a crowd of 70+ people in Chelsea all about my life-long eating disorder with peanut butter.   All in a night’s work when graduating from Level 1 Improv Class at The Pit-NYC.

Taking the class was part of my new year’s resolution to focus on fun, get back to performing—something I haven’t done since college, oh, say 20 years ago (ouch).  And boy did this deliver.  Like a drug, I’m hooked again, and already see the positive affects on my writing.  Big Kudos to Chef, Susan and Shannon who were my dutiful family and came (and laughed) at what times seemed like a Junior High Recital to me.

Self-portrait with two of my fav partners Clare & Cessa

Since I promised to check back-in and share with you progress on my resolutions—figured three months into it was a good place for a pause and share:

JPB 2010 Resolutions: UPDATE

ALPHABET CITY—#1) publish and sell 300 copies.  UPDATE: All right, so I way low balled this number.  It’s happening folks!  And it’s taking off in unexpected ways.  Look for me to roll through your city this summer on book club party tour.  THANK YOU FOR ALL THE WONDERFUL FEEDBACK!  If you haven’t bought your copy – hey, come on, help me out here!

Freelance Writing—score 4 assignments this year. UPDATE: Off to the Caribbean this morning for a feature story for Bon Appétit.  Sweet.  Or Savory, I suppose.

Blog Rhythm—try for 3 days per week.  UPDATE: Judging by the pulsing traffic, that seems to be working pretty well.

Espanol—Rosetta Stone staring me down.  UPDATE: Lo siento, folks, this is the one that’s snagging me again.  I did so well for a month and then my mind focused on other tasks.  But rather than beat myself up, just need to start making incremental progress.

Weight—get down to 145ish…UPDATE: amazing this is happening…I kicked my workouts into high cardio gear using iTrain workouts and am about 9 pounds shy of my ultimate goal.  That means I’ve lost a little over 10 pounds since I first posted this.  For the first time in my life, I actually enjoy Running – which I attribute to the workouts on iTrain.  Especially the instructor Grace – her mantra “Focus equals positive change” could be my mantra for this resolution special.

Keep on Cooking—UPDATE: Kitchen Knightmares has been shifting times recently, as I’ve become more comfortable and flexible in my approach.  I’ve got several recipes to share, just waiting for the right time.

Focus on Fun—Tennis, Yoga & Improv class.  UPDATE: Taking my racquet to the islands today; just finished a Yoga series; and well, you know what I think about Improv.

Sarah, the queen of Yes, and...

One of the tenets that our teacher Sarah Nowak at The Pit hit over and over again was “Yes, and…”  That when you are in a scene and your partner says something, you accept it and build on it—rather than deny it.  Yes, and…  It has an application beyond the whacky world of improv.  I like trying it on a daily basis—rather than make excuses for not doing things, I like the positive energy and attitude that comes with accepting suggestions and building on them.

My next task?  Saying yes, and to Spanish.  What about you?

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Think Fast

Today on Alphabet City: Jon Paul struggles to explain how he improvises his Saturday afternoons.

Thanks to my New Year’s resolutions, I’ve begun participating in something that’s hard to talk about.  Not in the sense that it’s emotionally difficult, mind you.  But as an activity it’s just plain challenging to explain.  It all started a few Saturdays ago.

“What kind of stuff did you do at your improv class?” Chef asked.

“Oh, today we mostly did object work.”

“I’m not sure what that means.”

“Well, like how we interact with fake objects.  Like we stood around in a circle and passed each other a thing that we mimed, and then we would change it and pass it to the next person.  It was really funny.”

“I imagine,” he said incredulously.  “And that went on for 3 hours?”

“Oh god, no.  Then we played like we were in a health club.  And I fell on the treadmill and hurt my knee.  I think I’ve got a bruise.”

“I don’t get it.  I thought it wasn’t real.”

“Well the treadmill I made up.  But the floor I hit was real.  Work with me here.”

I realized pretty quickly how difficult it was going to be to explain my enthusiasm for Improv 101 at People’s Improv Theater (www.thepit-nyc.com), so changed the subject.  The following Monday, Susan wanted to hear all about.

“What are the other students like?  Were you the oldest one like you feared?” she asked.

“No, there’s this guy Gary who’s older than me.  Kind of funny embarrassing though, when he passed me his fake object he farted.”

“He fake farted?”

“No, he really farted.  His fake object must have been so heavy that it caused him to really fart.  It’s was so funny.”

“Sounds hilarious,” she responded dubiously.

Despite the fact that I can’t seem to explain to anyone what exactly we do in the class, I am having a terrific time.  Having to push outside my boundaries, think fast, and perform in front of a group is exhilarating—takes me back to college when I last performed in front of an audience (I don’t count all the corporate presentations I make my living doing).

The hard thing for me is judging whether or not I am still good at improv performance—or if years of directing and writing have worn away the live performance skills.  Am I just fooling myself into thinking I’m funny?

Last night, I met up with a new friend from class Clare.  Last week, she and I did some hilarious (I think) scene work in a submarine where we had to speak in gibberish and a suicidal encounter in Starbucks—funny, right?  She laughed when I told her my insecurities about my talents—and inability to articulate the class to lay people.

“Oh, I totally know what you’re talking about.  I was trying to tell my husband about you.  I said, ‘There’s this guy Jon Paul in class.  He’s hysterical.  We couldn’t talk to each other.  And he made this face at me.  It was so funny!’  And he was like, ‘Sounds hilarious.’”

Glad to know I’m not the only one dealing with an improv translation challenge.

By the way, our student “graduation” performance is at 7pm on March 7 (the night of the Oscars—how did I manage that?).  Everyone’s invited—but trust me, I’m unable to tell you if it will be funny.

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